OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 2

Day 2 started at 03:30 local time, so I got about 5-5.5 hours sleep. After doing a bit of work on the computer I went for a swim at the beach. I would like to say I was very brave and marched in, but I got to waist level and gave up. It wasn’t so much that the water was cold. It was more than the wind was so strong I was freezing to death before I got to the water. Bjoern and Connor were made of sterner stuff and stayed in. I wrapped myself in a bunch of towels and paddled. Once I was covered up I realised the water was not so bad, so I actually got back in. It wasn’t so much a swim, as jumping up and down trying not to get drowned by the waves. 🙂

The second day of the conference started for me with Connor‘s session on 12c for developers. It was a fast paced pass over a whole bunch of features that don’t necessarily make the headlines. There’s so much stuff in Oracle 12c I found myself thinking, I really need to write and article on that, only to remember I’ve already done it. It’s going to take a long time for this to become a natural part of my toolset.

Next up was Penny Cookson talking about the optimizer, focussing on the traps people fall into when they forget the optimizer sometimes has to make assumptions or guesses. Amongst other things, this included cases where histograms help and where they don’t. Where extended statistics help and where they don’t. Where cardinality (statistics) feedback helps and it doesn’t. Penny always uses a specific example or metaphor to explain her case. In this case is was OHarmonry (eHarmony in UK & USA) and all about finding the perfect man. Very amusing. 🙂

After lunch it was back-to-back sessions for me. I think they went OK, but I was very tired so it was really hard to get psyched up for them. A couple of times I felt like I was really straining to speak without slurring my words. I always say I am nervous before every talk. I was too tired to be nervous before these, which is not a good thing. It’s quite hard to be objective about your own performance. I felt kind-of hyper in yesterday’s sessions, which made today feel comparatively flat. I hope they didn’t come across that way. Four sessions and a 5 minute contribution to a keynote in two days while sleep deprived is not optimal, but you gotta get the job done. 🙂

After my sessions I went to watch Penny Cookson and Scott Wesley speaking about presentation skills. Every bit of advice you can get helps…

The last session of the day was Connor McDonald speaking about hardware options for Oracle DBAs. Over the years you come across a lot of information, but it’s really nice when someone breaks it down into really simple terms and puts it all together so you get hit with it in one go. It kind-of crystallises in your mind. As is normal for Connor, it was a fast paced session, which was what I needed for the last session of the day. If I had sat in a sedate session I would have fallen asleep…

After a quick wrap-up, we headed down to the bar and sat speaking to the AUSOUG and SAGE Computing Services folks. After that we popped out to get some food, then Connor gave Bjoern and myself a lift to the airport.

It’s now 00:30 local time as I write this and in about an hour we board a 5 hour flight for Singapore, then a 5 hour flight to Shanghai. I’m going to be a right mess by the time I get there! 🙂

Thanks to all the folks in Perth for inviting us along and making sure everything went smoothly. Thanks also to Connor for being our chauffeur. 🙂



OTN APAC 2014 : Perth – Day 1

I got up at 04:00 local time and spent the morning working through some stuff on the computer. Due to not reading tweets properly, I missed going for a morning swim at the beach with Bjoern and Connor.

Day 1 of the Perth conference started with some quick keynotes, then it was on to the first session. Inspired by the lightning talks at OOW, the first session I was involved in was a group of us each giving a 5 minute talk about impressions of this years Oracle OpenWorld. This one was less technical than the OOW sessions, but I thought it was fun.

After that I headed off to watch Chris Muir‘s talk about the data visualisation functionality in ADF. There is some pretty neat stuff in there these days! I think the important message from this was Oracle are not trying to make it all things for all people, but it should be pretty easy to use these visualisation gizmos for most of the stuff you need to do. There will always be a place for specialised visualisation tools. I think this is a good move on their part. Overcomplicating the offering would be a mistake IMHO. Even so, it’s darn impressive what this stuff can do these days! You can see some of the stuff that gets bundled with ADF 12.1.3 here.

After that I headed over to watch Bjoern Rost do a session on Flashback Data Archive. I had a quick chat with him and Connor about the subjects afterwards. I’ve not looked at the 12c enhancements yet, but it seems there is some interesting stuff there.

I spent quite a bit of time catching up with Chris Muir after Bjoern’s session, so I missed some other sessions. Then it was off to mine. I did back-to-back sessions on virtualisation and WebLogic. They are intentionally “light and fluffy” introductory sessions, so I hope they were useful to people. I got some questions at the end and talked to a couple of people afterwards, so I know there were at least some satisfied customers. 🙂

There was a social gathering to mark the end of the first day, then we headed back to the hotel and bed.

I’ve not been in this neck of the woods since 2011, but it feels like only yesterday. I kept bumping into family faces for a chat, which was really cool.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I’ve got the conference all day, with my two database sessions in the afternoon, then Bjoern and I have got to hang around until 02:00 in the morning to fly out to Shanghai. I’m looking forward to the conference, but not looking forward to the long wait before a long two-leg flight…




OTN APAC 2014 : The Journey to Perth

It was a pretty uneventful morning. I did my normal trick of checking everything was turned off, then checking again, just in case… 🙂

I breezed through baggage drop-off and security in record time, barely breaking stride.

We were a little late getting on the plane and stared taxiing out to the runway before everyone was seated. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. The first flight was somewhere between 6.5-7 hours long, followed by a 2+ hour stopover in Dubai. There was one minor incident when a woman had a hissy-fit at the stewardess, which resulted in her reporting the stewardess to the purser. A little while later, I went and found the purser and told her what I saw as a witness of the event. Basically, the stewardess was really nice and the passenger was being a stupid miserable old cow. Nuff said.

The second flight from Dubai to Perth was about 10.5 hours. No real dramas, and amazingly for me I actually got some sleep. I probably slept about 3 hours in total, made up of a few minutes here and there.

I arrived in Perth at about 17:45, having told folks here I would be arriving at about 14:00. I really don’t know what is wrong with me and travelling. 🙂 I got through passport control and customs with no worries, then got a taxi to the hotel. Once I was connected to the wifi I had to deal with nearly 2 days worth of emails in one go. It always amuses me how it feels like one long day for me, but 2 days for the rest of the world.

There was a dinner in the evening, but I was frazzled, so I ended up going to bed at about 22:00 local time and waking up this morning at 04:00. I’m supposed to be going out swimming in the sea this morning, but I’m hoping Connor and Bjoern are hungover and change their minds…

So the madness starts today. Wish me luck!



AUSOUG 2011: Perth Day 1 & 2…

Day 1:

The first presentation of the day was Debra Lilley speaking about 42 real life examples of Fusion Middleware with applications. When you see the markeing bumf it’s easy to believe Fusion Middleware is only for massive projects that use all its functionality. Debra’s presentation highlighted how Fusion Middleware is being used out in the real world. It’s not all about mega-projects.

Next was my Edition-Based Redefinition talk. I think it went pretty well and I got a whole bunch of questions at the end. The speakers receive a bottle of wine as a thank you for presenting. I donated mine to the lady who asked the last question of the session. Talk about shamelessly buying friends… 🙂

I started to chat to a few people and somehow managed miss the next two sessions. People should have learned by now that once you start me off there is no stopping me. 🙂

The last session of the day was Graham Wood’s on Oracle’s hidden features. This was a mixed bag of neat little features, some of them I knew, some of them were new to me and some were things I remember reading about in the past, but had forgotten they existed. These presentations are always pretty humbling when you realize how much stuff has passed you by over the last few years. 🙂

In the evening a few of us went out for a quick drink, then it was off to bed (not together 🙂 ).

Day 2:

Day 2 started off with Scott Wesley talking about APEX 4.1 security. I like APEX, but I don’t use it enough. The content was cool and the presentation style was pretty neat. He used Prezi rather than PowerPoint, which made a nice change. It would make senese to download this presentation and make a checklist of things you need to consider before putting any APEX app live.

Next up was Craig Shallahamer speaking about SQL elapsed time analysis. I think the OTN APAC Tour is taking its toll on Craig’s voice. He’s starting to sound like Barry White. 🙂 Craig is a very dynamic presenter. I tend to waddle around the stage a bit. Craig is more like Superman. It’s really good to watch and the content is great too.

Then it was off to present my Clonedb session. The turnout was pretty good, but the room was massive, so it felt a little like a wasteland. 🙂 Once again, lots of questions, so it was pretty cool. Lots of comment after the session as well. It seems the Clonedb feature has got a few people really excited.

Next was the panel session on our experiences of presenting. I like it when panels have strict control. Without it, it’s impossible to stop me from talking. I enjoyed being part of the panel, so I hope it was useful for the audience. The more people that can get into presenting, the better conferences will be.

Chris Muir‘s session on angels in the architecture was pretty neat. I’m not an ADF guy, so it’s not exactly my thing, but he presents well and had some cool photos of buildings to go along with his metaphor for the session.

Finally, it was Connor McDonald‘s session on a year in purgatory – diary of an 11.2 RAC upgrade. Connor is a great presenter and I think this is a presentation that many DBAs really need to hear. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Oracle RAC is not easy. Yes, you can install it on VirtualBox and have it running in no time, but that is far from using it in a high-octane live environment that *must not fail* and having deadlines to meet while patching etc. When you see the history of what Connor went through, you could understand lesser DBAs just jacking it all in and going off to grow carrots.

That was the end of a very successful AUSOUG conference, so a few of us went out to eat, then I got my plane home…

I was a little nervous about the flight home. I was awake from 04:30 and my plane was not until 22:30, so I had been awake about 18 hours before I even got on the plane. I don’t sleep on planes, so I was expecting another 21+ hours of being awake before I got home. I managed to cope quite well and I got into my house at about 14:00 and went straight to the gym, trying to delay going to bed until a more normal time in the UK. I ended up in bed about 18:00, so I had been awake for over 45 hours. I’m going to be in an “altered state”for a few days, but no major dramas, which is good.

Big thanks to the ACE Program for allowing me to go on the OTN APAC Tour. Also a big thank you to everyone involved in the organization of their respective events.




The Perth event is now done and dusted.

The day before the conference, Chris Muir took Lucas Jellema and myself on a little tour of the city. I slept OK the night before so I felt pretty good. That night I didn’t sleep at all. Not one minute. By the morning I felt OK so I went to the conference as planned. About 30 minutes into the first talk it was game over. I went back to the hotel and slept for about 3 hours.

When I got back I spent the rest of the day in Lucas’ session about “SOA for Database Professionals”. Lucas is a great speaker, which is even more impressive when you consider it’s not his first language. I shall try and catch the bits I missed at the Melbourne event.

The next day I spent the morning at Connor McDonald’s SQL sessions. I guess everyone knows by now Connor is a great presenter. Not surprisingly, he won the Best Speaker prize for this event. Shock Horror! 🙂

I had the afternoon session on day 2. I’d presented several elements of this session before, but never as a single block all together. The session was about 1 hour 45 minutes. It went OK, but I wasn’t really happy with it. A few of the demos towards the end failed. I’ve been playing with them since and it seems to be an issue with browser authentication in Firefox and Safari, rather than a fundamental technology issue. It seems that often, once you authenticate through the browser (to XML DB or EPG), subsequent authentications to different users ignore the new credentials and continue to try and authenticate with the old details. Just about the only way to make it consistent is to reboot between demos, which isn’t going to happen. Authentication via WebDAV or FTP works as expected. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m gonna work on tonight for workarounds.

Anyway, once the talk was over I got a bit of feedback from some of the guys and I think  I’m gonna revise a couple of bits of the talk for Melbourne. Emphasize a couple of bits and deemphasize others etc. Hopefully that will give it a little more punch.

This morning was … interesting. I got up early and started to do a bit of work. After a few hours I checked my flight details, even though I was sure my flight was at 17:10. Turns out that was my arrival time at Melbourne. My departure time from Perth was actually 10:50. My first reaction was I had missed my flight. Fortunately I had been up since 04:00, so even though I had been working for ages I was still in time for my flight. As I’ve said before, travel is never easy for me. 🙂

I did some frantic packing, threw my rucksack over my back, at which point my laptop flew across the room and landed on the floor. Seems I forgot to zip the pocket. Fortunately MacBooks are pretty solid so there doesn’t seem to be any damage.

Time to get on another plane and change time zone again…




The AUSOUG Perth conference finished a few hours ago. It’s a really good size event, about 400 people, which is big enough to feel busy, but small enough to feel personal. I met a bunch of familiar faces and many new ones.

The best speaker prize went to Connor McDonald. If you get the chance, check out his presentation style. It’s not the normal thing you see on the Oracle conference circuit.

I did two talks, which must have gone down OK with the audience as I got the second prize behind Connor. It was very nice surprise.

So tomorrow morning I leave Perth and head to Sydney for a couple of days on my way to Gold Coast…



Doug: I’ve already had the Number Two’s joke, so I’ll head you off at the pass on that one… 🙂

Family and Friends post: Day 1 in Perth…

Hello family and friends…

The flight to perth took a little longer than the planned 7 hours and 45 minutes. The last 2 hours were really tough. The lack of sleep meant I was really irritable. Everything was aggrivating my skin and my legs felt really stiff and bloated. I got into the hotel at about 19:00 and by about 19:30 I was in bed. I think it had been something like 40 hours without sleep and about 21 hours in a plane. Not good karma.

This morning I feel much better. I even did a bit of Yoga. The cold has graduated to a full on cough, but at least I’ve got a week off flying. It’s a holiday in Perth today, so everything is shut down. I had a quick look round this morning, but I still feel a bit shakey so I’ve come back to the hotel. I’m gonna do my washing and go back to bed for a bit. 🙂

I’m thinking about taking a boat trip in the next couple of days. Stationary floors feel like they are shaking, so I hope a boat will feel a little more steady. 🙂